(ATTN: UPDATES lead paras with Moon's request; CHANGES headline)
SEOUL, July 8 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in formally requested Wednesday that lawmakers hold confirmation hearings on his picks to serve as unification minister and head of the state intelligence agency.
Moon signed related documents and submitted them to the National Assembly earlier in the day, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok told reporters. It ushers in the start of a parliamentary process on the nominations of Lee In-young, a four-term lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Party, as unification minister, and Park Jie-won, a former minor opposition party lawmaker, as chief of the National Intelligence Service.
Parliament is legally required to complete the confirmation procedures within 20 days of the president's move, meaning that July 27 is the deadline.
Even if lawmakers fail, or refuse, to adopt confirmation hearing reports, Moon is empowered to press ahead with the appointment of Lee and Park.
Last week, Moon announced his choice of them as new members of his security team, which faces the daunting task of breaking a stalemate in inter-Korean relations and the broader Korea peace process.
The nomination of Lee was widely expected, given his political clout and experience as well as longtime interest in regional peace issues. If appointed, he would serve as Seoul's point man on Pyongyang in charge of inter-Korean affairs.
To many, however, the pick of Park came as a surprise, in that he was often critical of Moon's policies as a political rival.
It was seen by many as a message to North Korea. Park was chief presidential secretary to late President Kim Dae-jung, who had a historic summit in 2000 with the North's then-leader Kim Jong-il. Park, known to have played a pivotal role in preparations for the summit, has long advocated rapprochement between the two Koreas and peace on the peninsula.
He is replacing Suh Hoon, who began his new work as director of national security at Cheong Wa Dae earlier this week.
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